Massive RBZ forex scam exposed

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono has suspended Mirirai Chiremba, the head of the Financial Intelligence Inspectorate, Evaluation and Security (FIIES) division over a financial scandal that has exposed the RBZ as the star player on the foreign curren

cy black market.
Gono suspended Chiremba last week for two weeks without pay, after the eruption of a damaging scandal believed to have prejudiced the central bank of billions through under invoicing.
As divisional chief for Financial Intelligence, Chiremba – an ex-Central Intelligence Organisation operative – was responsible for raising forex on the black market for the central bank to bankroll key imports. But he allegedly abused his position by inflating the rate at which he purchased the forex, pocketing huge sums for himself with each transaction.
Highly-placed sources alleged that Chiremba would authorize the withdrawal of large sums of Zimdollars from the Retail Banking Division on Level -1 of the glass and mortar tower along Samora Machel Avenue and then allocate his various agents outside the bank to source forex from the black market.
After mopping all the foreign currency from the black market, Chiremba would then misrepresent the rates at which he bought the forex, alleged the source. “It was easy to fleece the central bank governor this way because no receipts were given from the black market,” he said.
“But the governor became suspicious when at one point Chiremba claimed the rates were at Z$250,000 to the US dollar when in actual fact the greenback was fetching Z$180,000 on the day in question.”
Gono then engaged his own investigators, resulting in the scam being exposed.
Repeated efforts to obtain comment from Gono or his spokesman Fortune Chasi were futile right up to the time of going to print. Questions in writing were requested by RBZ head of public relations Tonderai Mukeredzi and sent to him.
The Zimbabwean understands that the forex purchased from the black market would be repatriated to South Africa through Stanbic Bank to a “NOSTRO Account”, which is an RBZ forex account domiciled in Johannesburg.
This is the account that the RBZ uses to wire cash for various payments for supplies such as fuel, food and electricity imported from South Africa and other foreign countries.
The RBZ allegedly started using Stanbic Bank for repatriating cash to South Africa after Dr Munyaradzi Kereke joined the central bank as Gono’s policy advisor. Kereke was a director at Stanbic before joining the RBZ.
According to the source, Gono also took great exception when it emerged that Chiremba was allegedly lying about the amount he paid panners for gold deliveries. Up until the review of the gold support price from Z$350,000 to Z$3 million last month, Chiremba allegedly claimed he had bought gold from panners at Z$3 million when he bought it for Z$500,000, thus prejudicing the central bank of up to Z$2,5 million with each transaction. Again, no receipts were produced.
Chiremba was reportedly using one Scot to go out and purchase gold from the panners. Scot would then engage his own “foot soldiers” to go out to the panning sites to purchase gold. One of the persons involved in this racket, Elvis Tsunda, was convicted last Thursday at the Rotten Row Magistrates Court after being found in possession of 500 grams of gold intended for onward transmission to Chiremba. He was due to be sentenced on Tuesday for contravening the Precious Stones and Minerals Act.
The Zimbabwean heard that Gono was under pressure to fire Chiremba, but has been strongly advised against doing that amid reports the move could open a Pandora’s box of corruption in the central bank by the his own trusted lieutenants.

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